How Do You Know When It’s Time to Clean Your Chimney? - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Sep 30, 2019

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Clean Your Chimney?

Settling in by a warm fire is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If your home has a fireplace, pellet stove or wood stove, then you probably look forward to spending nights curled up next to the fire, enjoying the cozy atmosphere and the warmth it brings to your home.

On the other hand, having a fireplace, pellet stove or wood stove in your home also means added safety risks and additional line items to your home maintenance checklist. Failing to properly clean and maintain your chimney not only increases your chances of having a fire,  but could also lead to accidentally allowing harmful gases into your home.
While the importance of maintaining a clean chimney may be common knowledge, recognizing when it needs to be cleaned may not be. Follow these recommended tips for recognizing when it’s time to call a chimney sweep in preparation for dropping temperatures and to keep your home safe.
Here are 4 important signs that indicate it is time to clean your chimney:

1. Your fire is burning poorly

The trick to a good fire is a steady air flow. Having difficulty starting fires or maintaining them over several hours can be an indication that something is blocking air flow in the chimney.

2. Your fireplace or chimney is emitting a strong odor

A well-maintained fireplace will smell like burning wood. If your fireplace or chimney is emitting a strong, foul-smelling odor, it can be an indication that creosote has built up in the chimney. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood and can build up over time, restricting airflow to your fire and, subsequently, leading to faster creosote buildup. Strong odors may also be accompanied by other odorless gases that may cause harm, such as carbon monoxide. It is also important that your carbon monoxide detector is working properly to ensure your safety just in case any dangerous gases enter your home.

3. You notice a buildup of smoke while burning a fire

Smoke that builds up in your fireplace and enters your home is an indication that there is blockage in the chimney.

4. You hear small animals or birds

Small animals such as squirrels can find their way into chimneys from the top and have a habit of making homes inside the chimney. Similarly, it’s common for birds to create nests near or on the chimney or the roofline.

If you are experiencing any of these situations, consider calling your local chimney sweep. While it’s possible to clean a chimney out yourself, this is a job that you may want to leave to the professionals who will know exactly what to look for and what steps to take in keeping your home as safe as possible.

Be proactive!

The best way to avoid chimney fires and ensure that your fireplace, pellet stove or wood stove is always ready for use in cold weather is to have it cleaned ahead of time. Set a reminder for yourself in the Spring or Summer to call your local chimney sweep. That way, when it’s time to start heating your home you’ll be ready to go!